Welcome to readers of the Murray Valley Standard

Sturt Reserve, Murray Bridge, South Australia

Welcome to all of those readers who have come to this site as a result of reading the article in today’s Murray Valley Standard newspaper. I am pleased that you made the effort and hope you enjoy my articles and photos about birds.

This site is about sharing my interest in Australian birds seen in our garden here in Murray Bridge, along the river and other places throughout Australia whenever I get the chance to travel. Some of my articles also include photos of birds seen on various overseas trips, the latest being recently in Ethiopia, Morocco and Spain. Many of these photos will continue to appear over the coming months.


My sites are all interactive, meaning that readers can leave comments. Just click on the link that says “comments” just under the heading of this article (above and to the right of the photo above). I’ll respond to as many as I can.

If you want to find out more about me, click here (the link takes you to my writing site).

If you want to read about my travels, including overseas, click here. That site also includes many photos.

Australian Pelican, Sturt Reserve, Murray Bridge, South Australia

Purple Swamphen, Sturt Reserve, Murray Bridge, South Australia



Review: A field guide to the birds of Colombia

Colombia in South America is every birder’s dream destination. With well over 1800 species – more than any other country – its vast range of wonderful species is an attraction many find irresistible. With the relative stabilisation politically in the last few years, many birders are making this a “must visit” country. I wish I could join them. Maybe one day.

I bought a copy as a gift for a family member with close ties to Colombia. Before giving the guide as a present I must admit I spent quite a few hours browsing – and dreaming. Would I one day be able to afford to travel there and see some of the colourful birds covered by this guide?

Colombia has been without a modern field guide for some decades. This volume fills the void admirably, covering every species ever recorded there. The authors note, however, that the forthcoming Spanish edition may well have a few additions to this, the English version. Species are being added every year as new knowledge of the nation’s natural environment emerges.

The authors have done an amazing job covering every bird species in a country so rich in bird life. This guide, despite covering every species, is lightweight, compact, thin and would travel easily in a backpack – or a large pocket. It is arranged in an easy to use manner with every species illustrated, many with both male and female plumage as well as some juvenile plumages. Where helpful to identification, species are shown in flight. That’s no mean feat with over 1800 species in only 225 smallish pages!

They have achieved this compactness by keeping the illustrations small; most are 3 – 4 cm and are to scale compared with others on the same page. Most pages cover 6 – 8 species on average. In addition to the illustrations, the information is very succinct and basic:

  • Common English name,
  • Taxonomic name,
  • Size from head to tail (centimetres and inches)
  • A short one or two sentence description of its preferred habitat and diagnostic behaviours.
  • A tiny map of known distribution appears in each species’ box, including an altitudinal indicator which is especially helpful in the mountainous regions.
  • Some species descriptions also cover a brief indicator of the song or call.

All that in only 225 pages. Amazing.

I’d recommend this book just for the fun of looking at all the beautiful birds even if you are not planning a trip to Colombia. Warning: looking at this book may have you busily planning your next birding trip – to Colombia.

Authors: Miles McMullan, Thomas D. Donegan, Alonso Quevedo
Title: Field Guide to the Birds of Colombia.
Publication: 2010 by ProAves in Bogota, Colombia.

Kangaroos – and a few birds

Western Grey Kangaroo, Pondalowie Bay, South Australia

Okay – so this site is supposed to be about Australian Birds. Every now and then, however, I come across something interesting to photograph which doesn’t fall into that narrow field. Here is one example.

On our recent short holiday to Yorke Peninsula we visited the lovely and secluded Pondalowie Bay. The weather was quite unpleasant with light showers and almost gale force winds. The birding was consequently very limited. I did see several Pacific Gulls along with a few Silver Gulls and a solitary Sooty Oystercatcher. Two Pelicans braved the wild conditions in the bay and a small number of Crested Terns kept watch from some rocks. A Nankeen Kestrel used the wind to its advantage, soaring on the rushing air to search out a late afternoon snack.

Leaving the shoreline and driving inland a few hundred metres the wind abated somewhat in the lee of the sand dunes and thick coastal vegetation. Here the birding was a little better and I sighted a small list of species, including

  • Masked Lapwings
  • Galahs
  • Willie Wagtails
  • Grey Currawongs
  • Silvereyes
  • Singing Honeyeater (also seen near the water)
  • Rainbow Lorikeets
  • Crested Pigeons

And just as we were leaving the camping ground area we sighted a group of five juvenile Western Grey Kangaroos grazing near the road. They are used to vehicles in this area and didn’t stop their grazing as I stopped to take some photos.

Western Grey Kangaroos, Pondalowie Bay, South Australia

Australian Magpie, Pondalowie Bay, South Australia

Birding in Western Australia

It has been far too many years since my last visit to Western Australia. In fact, I’m probably some 30 years overdue for a return visit. This is a serious oversight on my part. The country there is beautiful, the people great, he flowers amazing and the birding first class.

Sadly I don’t have nay photos of Western Australian birds to share with you today. (Note to self: scan onto my computer all those slides taken so many years ago.) What I do have to share is a new blog based on WA birds; it’s only a few weeks old and has already set a high standard for sites about our birds.

The site is called Leeuwin Current Birding: a Western Australian Birding Blog.

A short non-birding holiday

Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor, South Australia

I am sorry about the lack of posts here in the last few weeks. I’ve been busy, distracted, somewhat unwell, and occupied with other tasks. Life happens.

Last week we hitched up the caravan for a four night mini holiday in Victor Harbor on the coast south of Adelaide. We usually head down there for a few days this time of the year so my wife can attend the CWCI Convention there. This convention is enjoyed by Christian women from all over the state and even some come from interstate. Meanwhile, the respective husbands, including yours truly, sit around in the caravan park talking about all manner of things and generally solving the world’s problems. Sometime we even gather up the energy and go for a walk.

This time around it was different for me. I was recovering from dental surgery and was not feeling much like walking. I did a lot of sleeping and reading. I also had long chats to some of the men on some quite deep topics – about life, the universe and everything. It didn’t leave much time for birding.

I just made a sketchy list of the birds seen or heard from where we were in the caravan park. Not a great list but I was aware of a few birds. Probably the highlight was seeing four Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos flying low overhead. Quite a nice species to add to my list for the weekend. I didn’t have the camera on me at the time. In fact, the camera didn’t even come out of its case all weekend. Now that’s unusual for me.

There was one other nice sighting. On the way home we saw about 50 Cape Barren Geese just south of home. Here’s a photo of one I prepared earlier.

Further reading:

Cape Barren Goose, Adelaide Zoo